The following is the first chapter of that new book I mentioned I was writing a couple weeks back (if you haven’t read the prologue yet, CLICK HERE). So, after a lot of thinking about it … I still have no idea what I’m going to name this book or even the series. It’s really hard naming books! Besides that, I’ve only written four and a half chapters (I’m working on chapter 5 right now, actually). I’ve been dragging my feet a little with this project because I’ve never attempted science fiction before and it require a lot of research and ingenuity.
Also, I’ve started up a YouTube channel which I’ll be using for a couple different things. The first reason is to showcase my books on a different platform. I’ll be making videos about my books, doing interviews with authors and illustrators, and also posting video book reviews! The secondary uses for the new channel include ASMR videos (click here if you don’t know what asmr is), hopefully some video game play-throughs (but that’s probably going to have to wait until I get a more powerful computer), and just regular video blogs. I’ve already got one ASMR video posted and I plan to upload a video about my books in the near future. If any of this sounds interesting to you, visit my YouTube channel and subscribe! I’d really appreciate your support!
Okay, now that my little update’s over here is the first chapter of that book I haven’t named yet! Yaaaay!
NOTE: This ‘first-draft’ chapter contains some strong language and violence
“Yo, K, you got those alarms disabled yet?” Artemis asked, pulling his mask over his unruly, chestnut-brown hair. He looked down into the large prototype room directly beneath the ten by ten crawlspace they were perched inside. “We’ve only got ten minutes before the guards make their rounds again.”
Kira could not help but scowl, continuing to type in numbers on her hologram watch keyboard—a clever invention of her own design. “I know how long we’ve got, Artemis. I was the one who did the reconnaissance, remember?” She paused her work and looked back at him, giving him a dull look. “Why are we here? Noire didn’t even want to bother with this, so why are we? Tora Corp has done a lot of upgrades to their security system since the last time we were here, and even then we couldn’t make a clean escape. Once I disable the alarms, laser grids, heat sensors, motion detectors, and chip scanners you’ll have five minutes at the most. Five minutes. I could have given you more time if I had better equipment, but—”
“I’ll be fine!” Artemis said, flashing her a toothy grin before pulling his mask down over the rest of his face so that only his moss-green eyes were visible. “Five minutes is plenty of time. You worry way too much, K. Just relax, will you? You’re gonna give yourself an ulcer.”
“You know that’s impossible,” Kira said, returning her attention to her work. “Most of the human race is impervious to those sort of ailments now.”
Artemis sighed and reached down to touch his toes, doing a few warm up stretches. “You know what I mean, smartass.”
Kira shrugged. “You don’t worry at all, so I have to worry for the both of us,” she replied simply, having to squint her eyes—they had not yet adjusted to the darkness of the ventilation shafts. “Given that, I blame my anxiety entirely on you. You’re the one who dragged me into this after all.”
Artemis paused in securing his tether to his belt. “Hey—”
“Done,” Kira said, smirking to herself. “Security systems are down—that is, all the systems my holowatch was able to detect. So be careful, alright? It’s possible that Tora installed some undetectable security measures. Just get the photon gun and get out—don’t dawdle.”
“Dawdle?” Artemis asked, tilting his head to the side. “You just made that word up, didn’t you?”
Kira’s face became cold and stern as it usually did when she was working. “Four minutes fifty seconds and counting. Move it.”
Artemis chuckled and tugged on the black rope attacked to his belt harness. “You’re so adorable when you’re all bossy. I just wanna pinch your wittle cheeks!”
Kira gritted her teeth, tempted to kick him down into the room below. “Move. It.”
“Yes, sir!” He saluted to her in a cocky manner before lithely diving down into the room, making absolutely no sound in the process—much to Kira’s relief. As she watched him repel down into the domed, sterile-white room, she couldn’t help but wonder what Artemis was trying to prove? Noire already respected his talents—and hers for that matter. In her opinion it had been a foolish idea to pursue a piece of technology that not even the master thief himself—Adair Noire, otherwise known as The Panther by the global media—had attempted to steal.
Noire’s technology was outdated despite the fact that Kira had tried modernize his old gadgets to the best of her abilities. Noire was still the best thief in the world, having stolen countless precious items from greedy men who were undeserving of their riches. These items ranged from banned artifacts, to marvels of modern science. Many of the banned artifacts that Noire stole, he kept and archived so that the people he took in—people like Kira and Artemis—would know how the world used to be before the age of the four empires. Kira had taken an interest in the history books and old technologies that her adopted father had collected, while Artemis gravitated more towards the comic books and music—that sounded like noise to Kira—from nearly one thousand years prior. The items that Noire collected from the past were priceless and precious—more so now that they had been banned by the four emperors of the world.
The three struggled to get by and to keep Noire’s archaic machines and gadgets running smoothly. But now, even with Kira’s gift with all things mechanical, modern technology had advanced too far. Kira couldn’t keep up with the world’s advances despite her cleverness—she needed new parts, new holodrives … new technology. She knew that Noire would never purchase anything from the empire—he didn’t even use the things he stole from them. He was prideful and obstinate, and Kira was afraid that would be his downfall. Noire was a wanted man, and with technology progressing so rapidly, it would not be long before the empire discover the elusive ‘Panther’s’ base of operations.
The photon gun they were attempting to acquire now would not help them much in the way of updating their century old machinery, but if they found the right buyer for the weapon, they could make a hefty sum. With that money, they could buy many of the parts they needed from black market tech-dealers to upgrade their security.
In short, Kira, Artemis, and Noire—though the latter would never admit it aloud—needed this score. The Panther’s base was the only home Kira had ever known, and she would do anything to make sure that it wasn’t compromised—even agree to this stupid plan of Artemis’s design.
She felt her heart quicken in pace as she checked her holowatch—only two minutes and thirteen seconds remained before the building AI would break through her firewall and reboot the prototype room security features that she’d disabled. Despite her internal panic, she smiled. It’s a good thing Tora hasn’t updated their building’s AI yet—I know the empire owned buildings’ new AIs can detect intruder firewalls within five seconds of initiation—not much time to pull off a heist like this, she thought as she watched Artemis pull a dimension ray—a slender metal tool with a few black buttons and a touch screen on the handle—from his belt.
With the ray he outlined a circle in the glass case he was hanging above and selected a dimension preference from the touch screen, just as she had instructed him. The circle of glass he’d outlined with the ray vanished into thin air, and Artemis pressed a button on his belt, lowering him down into the glass case where the Photon Gun was.
Kira was a little sad they would have to sell a masterpiece like that. There were plenty of photon weapons available on the market, but this one put them all to shame. Tora Corp had managed to harness the power of a full-sized photon cannon—which was very large and required someone much bigger than she to operate—in a weapon the size of plasma handgun. That little weapon could really pack a big punch, and, being a gun enthusiast, she couldn’t say she wasn’t tempted to keep it for herself. But, as much as she wanted that gun, she wanted much more to keep her home and her family safe from the empire’s crushing grip. She would sell it. She had to sell it.
Artemis snatched the photon gun from its stand and held it up for Kira to see. Before she had any time to celebrate, her holowatch’s projection screen popped up, flashing red. One of the silent alarms had been tripped. Her expression hardened as she tapped on the communicator in her ear. “Damn it, Artemis, I told you to be careful! One of the alarms tripped. Get back up here now. The guards are coming.”
“What’d I do?” Artemis’s voice sounded in her ear. “You said the security systems were down!”
“I said all the security features that my holowatch could detect were down,” Kira hissed. “Now get out of th—”
“Shit. They’re here,” Artemis grumbled.
Artemis laid down on her stomach and removed her ray guns from their holsters pointing them down into the prototype room where the guards had just entered. There were at least ten of them dressed in white and black Tora Corp uniforms. These weren’t just regular security guards either—they were as well trained and as well armed as military soldiers. They already had their guns out as they crept through the aisles of glass cases containing Tora Corp’s more pricey inventions. If Artemis were to repel back up to the ceiling now, he would surely be spotted.
“Get out of the case and hide,” Kira said, training her guns on the guards, but unable to get a clear shot yet.
“Are you gonna shoot them?” Artemis asked.
“That was the plan, yes,” Kira said lowly, placing her fingers on the triggers as Artemis climbed out of the case and rolled behind another. “If you’ve got a better idea, I’m open to suggestions.”
“I think I’ve got something,” he whispered into his com, she could hear the grin in his voice—that was never a good sign.
“Artemis, whatever you’re thinking, don’t do it until we’ve talked—”
Artemis ran out from his hiding spot, punched one of the guards in his throat and disarmed him in two swift movements. He flipped out of the path of a ray gun blast and swept his leg beneath another one of the guards, knocking him out with a punch to the face for good measure.
“Use the gun!” Kira said.
“I don’t know how!” Artemis replied, flipping over a guard only to jab his fingers into the small of the guard’s back. The guard fell to his knees unable to move, and Artemis continued on to the next guard. “Besides, I don’t like guns.”
“All you have to do is pull the damn trigger, it’s not that difficult,” Kira said, closing an eye to better zero in on the guards below.
Artemis punched a guard in the gut, and, when he was doubled over, kneed him in the face. “It looks like I’m doing alright without a gun so far,” he said, pausing briefly to look up at her with what was no doubt a smug look beneath his mask.
In that split second that Artemis wasn’t paying attention, one of the guards pulled the trigger of their gun. The ray shot through Artemis’s arm and he cried out in pain, gripping his bleeding wound.
As the guards advanced on him, Kira clenched her jaw. She couldn’t get a clear shot from above, thanks to all the glass cases. She sighed, pulled her mask down over her face and grabbed onto the rope. “I guess it can’t be helped…” she murmured before repelling down the rope, gunning down guards as she descended.
By the time she reached the ground, all the guards were lying unconscious on the floor of the prototype room, bleeding from the minor wounds she’d gifted them with. “I guess those knock-out charges worked after all,” she mused to herself, twirling her guns back into their holsters.
Artemis grasped his arm, his eyes—the only features not covered by his mask—squinted in an odd combination of both pain and amusement. “Nice shootin’, Tex.”
Kira refrained from rolling her eyes and helped him to his feet. “You’ve got to be more careful. You’re going to get yourself killed if you keep acting so impulsively.”
“But that’s what I’ve got you for, right? To save my ass when I do stupid things,” Artemis said, nudging her playfully.
Kira pushed him away from her. “I’m not going to be around forever. You can’t rely on me to help you out every time you make an idiotic call. Now, come on. We’ve got the photon gun, so let’s get out of here before more guards—”
The shrill sound of an alarm cut Kira off mid sentence. Artemis scratched the back of his head. “Sounds like our five minutes are up, ‘ey, K?”
“Section P-1: intruder alert. Threats unidentified—missing data chips. Section P-1: intruder alert. Threats unidentified—missing data chips,” the smooth female voice of Tora Corp’s building AI echoed throughout the room. Plated steel slammed down over the windows and doors, and were soon sealed with laser barriers.
“Can’t we use the dimension ray to blow this joint?” Artemis asked.
“No. The dimension ray only works on inorganic matter,” Kira said, suddenly very sorry she had given it that limitation.
“Can’t we use it to cut through the walls or something?”
“The ray can’t cut through anything thicker than two feet—the floor, walls, and ceiling in all the prototype rooms are eight feet thick.”
“What about the ventilation shafts?”
“We can give it a try, but the AI has already locked onto our heat signatures,” She murmured typing a few things into her holowatch. “I can cool us down to make it a bit harder for the AI to find us, but, even still, getting out of here won’t be easy.”
Artemis groaned, his shoulders slumping forward. “When is it ever easy? Man do I hate AI tech…”
Kira grabbed the rope that hung from the vent and handed it to Artemis. “Are you going to be alright to climb?”
“Oh, yeah!” he said, taking hold of the rope despite his wounded arm. “I’ve scaled skyscrapers in worse condition than this.”
As he began his ascent, Kira’s dark blue eyes darted anxiously around the room. The AI had gone quiet and no guards had come to apprehend them yet. Something wasn’t right. Not only that, but the ventilation shaft they’d come through wasn’t blocked off like the other exits. Tora’s AI system might have been a year or two outdated, but it still should have known to block off every avenue of escape—the vents included. That was basic programming for every building AI system for over three hundred years.
Just then, the tempered glass ceiling of the prototype room shattered, thick glass shards raining down upon them. Kira shielded her eyes and dove out of the path of a piece of metal framing before it could crush her. A muscular man in a dark blue and black armored suit fell through the ceiling, grabbing Artemis on the way down and slamming him into the ground with such force, Kira was sure that her partner had broken a few bones.
The man in the suit stood up straight, brushing his dark blonde hair out of his masked face. “How many times must I catch you two-bit thieves before you learn your lesson?” he asked, his accent was silky, but his tone was condescending—not that she expected any less from him.
“Not this Douchebag again…” Artemis groaned, trying—unsuccessfully—to get to his feet. “Don’t you have some tights to try on or something?”
“I have an appointment after I’m finished here with you, actually,” the man said, flashing a charming smile.
Kira pulled out her guns aiming them at the masked man. “No way. You’re not going to bring us in this time, Figment.”
Figment chuckled, striding over to her and kicking the photon gun out of Artemis’s reach in the process. “As if your guns have ever stopped me before.”
“I’ve got brand new charges, freak,” Kira said through gritted teeth. “I’ve been dying to test them on you so, by all means, keep coming towards me.” Her eyes flickered to Artemis then to the photon gun. Artemis, seemingly taking the hint, nodded and crept toward the weapon while Figment’s back was turned.
Figment sighed, crossing his bulky arms over his muscular chest. “We both know how this scenario is going play out. You’re going to shoot me, I’m going to dodge it, then I’ll apprehend both of you, and drop you off at the police station. Come now, you two! We’ve done this dance enough by now for you to know the steps.”
Artemis grabbed the photon gun and aimed it at Figment. He pulled the trigger, but the beam missed him by a good five feet. Artemis laughed nervously as Kira and Figment stared at him, both looking completely disenchanted. “Oops?”
Kira breathed in deeply through her nose. “How could you miss him? He’s literally two feet away from you!”
Artemis shrugged. “I must have forgot to take wind resistance into account…”
“We’re inside a building—there is no ‘wind resistance’!” Kira shouted. Her shrewd gaze returned to Figment, her grip tightening on the handles of her plasma guns. “Screw this. I’m taking you down, freakshow.”
She fired off several rounds in succession, her aim deadly accurate—if only her charges were meant to kill. Unfortunately, Figment dodged each and every beam fired at him with inhuman speed. He charged her, grabbed the guns from her hands—though she fought vigorously with him for a couple seconds—and threw her into a nearby casing, shattering the glass upon contact.
Dizzy and disoriented, Kira felt herself being picked up and carelessly thrown over Figment’s shoulder like she was a rag doll. She heard the laser cuffs buzz to life as Figment restrained Artemis and stuck him beneath his other arm. She looked down at her companion, her expression tightening. Kira could tell that Artemis was trying to smile at her from beneath his mask.
“Come on, K, don’t give me that look,” he said weakly. “It could be worse.”
“He’s right, you know,” Figment said. “I could have easily killed you. It’s lucky for you I have a ‘no killing’ policy, isn’t it?”
Kira refused to say anything more, as Figment carried them out of the prototype room, whistling an annoyingly upbeat tune as he strode to deliver them to their jail cells.
The Imperial City police precinct wasn’t as bustling as it used to be. Ever since The Figment showed up two years ago, there weren’t many stupid enough to attempt to commit crimes in Imperial City—the capital of the Northwestern Empire’s America division. Artemis and Kira were stripped of most of their weapons and gadgets and thrown into a drunk tank upon their arrival at the police building. Thankfully, no one bothered with their masks or Kira’s holowatch.
Now she and Artemis sat on a cold metal bench between an old man murmuring about the price of food tablets, and scruffy looking man who appeared as if he was trying very hard to keep himself from vomiting.
Kira leaned forward, hanging her head. “We can’t keep doing this, Artemis.”
“It’s kind of all we know how to do, K,” Artemis replied, gingerly dabbing at his wounded arm with an antibacterial pad one of the policewomen had given him.
“Well, maybe we should learn how to do something else,” she said bitterly. “Maybe we should get real jobs.”
“Then we’d have to get data chips, and somehow get our birth files, and follow the empires rules—”
“Things are changing,” she said, looking back at him. “The empire isn’t what is used to be. Ever since Emperor Braith died, things have gotten better for everyone. People aren’t afraid any more—we don’t need to be afraid either. Look, we’re not devoted to any sort of cause rebel cause like the Timber Organization—we can go straight without damaging ties with anyone.”
“What about Noire?” Artemis asked. “If we get ‘real jobs’ we’ll just be leaving him by himself. You know he’d never agree to get chipped or get a job monitored by the empire. We’d just be … abandoning him. Sure, he’s a bit uptight, but we can’t just leave him after everything he’s done for us. He took me in and raised you from a freaking toddler, for Christ’s sake!”
“I’m twenty-one and you’re twenty-four now—we’re adults,” Kira said, hanging her head once more. “Adults go off on their own and try to make decent livings for themselves. We can’t stay with Noire forever.”
Artemis frowned. “What the hell crawled up your ass and died?”
Kira scowled, shutting her eyes tightly. “I’m just sick of getting caught. I’m sick of being afraid. I’m sick of living in a sewer.”
“Hey! It’s not a sewer, it’s a pipeline!”
“It’s a sewer, Artemis.”
“Alright, fine. It’s a sewer,” Artemis mumbled before perking up again. “But don’t you think it’s kind of cool we live down there? We’re like the teenage mutant ninja turtles, except we’re not teenagers, or giant anthropomorphic turtles, and we steal stuff instead of saving people!” he said, lifting his cuffed hands triumphantly. As Kira glowered at him, His shoulders slumped forward in defeat. “Okay, okay. So the only thing we really share with them is that we live in a sewer…”
Kira shook her head. “Are you rambling about your comic books again? This isn’t a comic book—this our lives, and we’re wasting them! We’re never going to get ahead like this.”
They both went silent as Kira discreetly flicked up her holowatch screen and began to infiltrate her laser cuff’s programing. While she was busy doing that, Artemis stood up and went to the glowing blue beams of light that contained them. He touched a bar and yelped, instantly pulling his hands away. “Feels like they amped up the juice on these containment beams. Maybe we’re finally gaining some infamy around here, ey?”
“If we were, they’d have put us in separate cells and taken my holowatch,” Kira grumbled.
“Oh. Good point,” Artemis replied, scratching his masked cheek.
Between the jail cells and the vacant police desks there was a full sized three-dimensional laser projection of the news. After a commercial about an intergalactic cruise liner, a voluptuous blonde anchorwoman was projected. “In breaking news, the mysterious hero of Imperial City known only as The Figment has once again apprehended whom this city has come to know as The Terrible Two.”
Artemis scoffed. “What a lame name—at least give us cool supervillain titles, lady!”
“We’re not villains,” Kira murmured, knowing that Artemis wouldn’t hear her.
“The unidentified duo were caught trying to steal Tora Corporation’s new photon gun prototype—an invention that, once completed, will revolutionize modern warfare,” the anchorwoman went on. “In the wrong hands, the photon gun could have devastating effects. Thankfully, our city’s defender, The Figment, was there to stop these vandals before any harm could be done. In response to the recent string of attempted robberies that Tora Corp has endured, CEO Reid Zarlok, has announced that all Tora building AI’s will be updated with The Empire’s new software within the next few days. Zarlok had a few minutes to speak with our very own Robert Esperanza, about today’s event.”
The projection flickered and the blonde anchorwoman disappeared. In her place, two men filled the projection. The first man—the reporter, Kira assumed—was stout with a full head of what anyone with half a brain could tell was synthetic implants. Across from the reporter was a tall, slender man, with a mildly-attractive face that looked to be in need of a good shave. He had shaggy, dark hair, and strange, orange-colored eyes—Kira guessed that he must have had them surgically altered. She had seen Tora Corp’s CEO many times when she passed media projections on the street, and each time she saw him he was dressed to the nines. However, his hair never looked brushed and his face was never clean shaven. He looked like a bum someone plucked off the street and stuck in fancy clothes.
“So,” the reporter began, “Mr. Zarlok—”
“We’re all friends here, Mikey. Call me Reid,” Zarlok said, taking a large bite out of a candy bar.
Esperanza laughed. “Alright, Reid, what did you think about today’s excitement?”
“I think Figment owes me a new tempered glass ceiling in my prototype room.” Reid smirked, taking another bite of his candy before going on. “Nah, I’m just messing around. In all seriousness, it wasn’t that big of a deal.”
“But your photon gun was almost stolen—that thought has to worry you a little.”
Reid waved his candy bar airily. “Not really. I mean, sure, the photon gun is a big deal and all, but the real important stuff we keep up in our research and development space station. There’s no way those small-time thieves can get to that stuff.”
Esperanza nodded. “I see. Would you care elaborating on some of the things your company is working on up there?”
Reid scratched his scruffy chin and shrugged. “Eh. What the hell—why not? We’ve been keeping these two inventions under wraps for a while, but now’s a good a time as any to share.” He stuffed the rest of his candy bar in his mouth, and pulled another one from his pocket. “So, first big thing we’re working on is a cure for that Tarlonia disease that’s going around—ya know, the one that killing everyone by eating up their insides.”
The reporter’s eyes widened. “That’s extraordinary news! Tarlonia has been the world’s leading cause of death for over five hundred years! How close is Tora Corp to a cure, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“I don’t mind at all, Mikey,” Reid replied with a cheery smile. “Last I heard from my scientists up there, we’re only a few months away from human testing. It’s going to take another year after that to start distributing, but rest assured we’re working real hard to get this cure out ASAP.”
“We’re certainly glad to hear it, Mr. Zar—uh, Reid,” Esperanza said before clearing his throat. “Now what’s this second invention you’re working on—you mentioned there were two.”
Reid chuckled good-humoredly and took a big bite out of his candy. “You don’t miss a beat, do you, Mikey? I throw you a bone and ya want ten more! Alright, alright, ya twisted my arm. This other huge project we’re working on, isn’t as earth shattering as the cure to Tarlonia, but I think it’s pretty awesome all the same,” he said, smoothing out his fine suit coat. “With all the space travel we’ve been doing and all the new inhabited planets we’ve been finding, intergalactic war is becoming a very real possibility, wouldn’t ya say?”
“I’d say so, yes.”
“Well, us at the Tora Corporation think Earth should be ready for anything—hence all the cool new weapons we’ve been inventing,” Reid said as a bit of his candy fell onto his crisp white suit—he didn’t seem to mind. “Anyway, the scientists up at our space station were messing around with metals a couple months back and managed to create what we’re calling ‘mass compressing titanium alloy’.”
The reporter placed his hands on his hips. “That sounds pretty interesting. What’s it do?”
“That’s the cool part, Mikey,” Reid said, finishing his second candy bar and immediately pulling some biscuits out of his pocket. “With some simple programing, one square foot of our MCTA can compress down to the size of a single molecule, and, when it decompresses, it’ll hold the shape of whatever you formed it into before the compression. We’re testing it on portable shelters right now, but our big plan is to make a shield out of MCTA to surround the entire world in case of an attack. The alloy is super lightweight, so we don’t have to worry about it disrupting the flow of things down here, and it’s nearly indestructible—nothing short of a couple dozen atomic bombs is going to put a dent in it.”
“Impressive,” Esperanza praised. “But how exactly does something like that function. The concept is a little farfetched even by modern technology’s standards.”
Reid bit into his biscuit and pointed the remainder of it at the reporter. “Look, it just works, alright? I don’t know the sciencey lingo to explain it to ya—hell, I’m not really sure how it works myself. I’m damn sure not a brainiac—I hire smart people to know about this stuff so I don’t have to. The point is, we’ve got some pretty cool tech headed our way, and we should all be looking forward to it.”
“Indeed we should, and I’m sure we’re all very excited to see Tora Corps new inventions for ourselves,” Esperanza said before turning to face the audience. “Well, there you have it! Reid Zarlock: unruffled and as optimistic as ever in the face of today’s shocking events. Diana, back to you in the studio.”
Artemis tilted his head to the side as the image shifted back to the busty anchorwoman. “Is it just me or is that Zarlok guy always eating?”
“It’s not just you,” Kira said. She typed a few more things into her holowatch’s projected keyboard and her red laser cuffed turned white and fell from around her wrists. “Stop ogling that reporter and come over here.”
Artemis wandered back over to her and held out his wrists without her even having to ask him too—they had done this so many times it had become routine by now. “Hey … that MCTA stuff sounds kinda cool, right?” he asked in a strangely cautious tone.
Kira pointed the white beam from her watch at Artemis’s cuffs. “I guess.”
“It might be nice to have something like that on our side,” he said, as his cuffs turned white too and fell to the ground.
Kira’s gaze flicked up to the ceiling. “Maybe, but it’s not like we can steal it. You heard what Zarlok said—it’s up on Tora Corp’s space station.” She got to her feet and passed through the light bars that were keeping them in. Artemis hurried after her.
“Think of all the things you could make out of that stuff, K!” Artemis cried, throwing his arms out wide.
“Yeah. The possibilities are endless,” she mumbled monotonously.
As they rounded a corner a couple of startled policemen tried to stop them, but Artemis easily knocked them out with a couple swift punches to the throat. “Listen to what I’m saying, Kira. We could stand a chance against Figment if we had some of that MCTA crap to mold into new gadgets—heck, we could probably even win! Think of all the tech we could steal without having to worry about that douche!”
They entered the evidence room and Kira knocked out one of the cops with one solid punch to the temple, while Artemis took down the other two—dodging a couple laser charges while he did so. Kira disabled the plasma shield into front of the counter and hopped over it. She grabbed a well-worn plastic bin labeled ‘The Terrible Two’ and set it on the counter in front of Artemis.
“Look. As long as Figment’s working in this city, we can’t,” Artemis said, grabbing his tools out of the bin and sticking them in his utility belt.
Kira stuck her com back in her ear and handed Artemis his. “So we’ll move somewhere else.”
“Yeah, sure. Like Noire’s gonna agree to that. He’s had that base for years—he’s not just going to up and leave.”
“He doesn’t have to leave,” Kira growled, growing more frustrated by the moment. She holstered her guns, hopped back over the counter, and left the evidence room. “We can leave by ourselves. We can find another city—a city without a superhero.”
Artemis laughed sarcastically. “So you’re gonna pull an ‘Elliot’, huh? You’re just going to split after everything Noire’s done for you?”
“Don’t talk to me about Elliot,” she grumbled. “I feel like I’ve heard this before…”
“Yeah? Well this ‘going off on your own’ shit is news to me,” Artemis said, jumping up onto the wall, grabbing the bar above Kira and thrusting his feet into the policeman who just rounded the corner with his gun drawn. He swung himself down from the bar, landing lightly on his feet. “I know that if you get an idea in your head there’s nothing that’s gonna stop you from trying to see it through, but just hear me out. Let’s try to get some of that MCTA. Figment’s not up there so we might actually be able to steal it. After we get it, I’ll bring some of it back to Noire so we can start fixing up the base, and you can go off on your own—sound fair?”
“No, because I didn’t want it to begin with,” Kira replied, pulling out one of her guns and blasting a hole through the window at the end of the hall.
Artemis groaned, running his hand over the top of his masked head. “I can’t do it without you, K. Come on, what’ve we got to lose?”
“Our lives if they catch us,” she said as she hopped out of the window and onto the ledge, beginning to scale up the side of the slick, glass plated building. “It’s not that easy to escape a giant floating building in space, Artemis.”
With a few more expertly executed martial arts kicks and jabs, he took out a couple more cops who tried to pull them back into the building, and climbed up after her. “We won’t get caught. We’ll be careful.”
“I’m always careful,” Kira snapped, pausing briefly in her ascent to look down at him. “You’re the one who’s always screwing up my plans with your impulsiveness.”
“What if I promised to do exactly what you said this time? Come on, K! Whether you like it or not, all three of us need a score like this,” Artemis said. “That photon gun is peanuts compared to that MCTA stuff! If we bring just one piece of it back with us we could sell it, then we could finally help Noire update his base with the huge payday we’ll get—that’s what you want, isn’t it?”
Kira clenched her jaw, trying to ignore the hover cars that zoomed past them on the airway next to the police building. After a long moment of silent contemplation, Kira sighed. “Fine, I’ll do it, but only under one condition.”
Artemis’s moss green eyes lit up with hope. “Yeah?”
Kira smirked smugly, glad that he couldn’t see it. “Noire has to agree to it.”
His eyes narrowed, all optimism disappearing from them. “You know he’d never say yes to one of my ‘harebrained schemes’!”
Kira merely shrugged and continued up the side of the building, pressing the button for her cloaking device, making the two of them invisible to everyone else. “Those are my terms. If he ‘okays’ the heist then we’ll go, if he doesn’t, then we stay and try to convince him to move out of Imperial City.”
Although Artemis griped and moaned about how unfair it all was, Kira said no more on the subject the entire way back to Noire’s underground base.
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